Romany (or Romani) Natural Remedies - formerly known as "Gypsy" Folk Medicine

In the small towns and villages of Romania, the medicinal herb knowledge of Gypsy women is held in far greater esteem than that of the village doctors. There's a wealth of knowledge and experience in using medicinal herbs as remedies and cures. 

This article is lengthy, because the number and types of remedies used by Romani is vast, so is their knowledge, and it has been handed down since ancient times. The name "gypsy" is no longer appropriate, and Romany consider it a slur. It's use evokes images of dishonesty, thievery, fortune-telling and spells.
They are now respectfully called the Romany or Romani. They have a fascinating and interesting culture, but this article only pertains to their traditions and abilities to heal with herbs and plants.

According to Frank Cuttriss in his book, "Romany Life" the Gypsy ‘lives a healthy, open-air life, with sun, wind and rain as his closest companions, taking no anxious thought for the morrow, with the result that he is seldom seriously unwell or unfit’.

Romani people use herbs to heal such as burdock root extract, basil tea and elderberry to treat the flu. 
Oils such as cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, lemon and lemongrass were used by Romany people to treat the Bubonic plague in Europe. 
The Amish folk cures page lists Burdock Root as a treatment for severe burns.

There is so much information on Romany herbalism and cures, this article will probaly run 2 pages..... enjoy.

To hop to the list of herbs and plants you can grow in a Romany Medicinal Garden design, click here ~

First Things First...... The Real Science of Romany Herbal Medicine

***These natural and home remedies are given for information use only, as a guide to the natural remedies used by the Romany.
They are not given as prescriptions or suggested remedies for your ailments.
If you are ill, see your physician. 
If you use any of these remedies, you do so at your own risk.

Herb name Scientific name of plant Main Chemical Composition Biological activity
Aniarsexe (Sparceta) Onobrychis viciifolia
Tanins, flavons, proteins, minerals (Cu, Ca, P) Anti-inflammatory, detoxifying action, urinary diseases, sexual dysfunctions, hypoglycemic, anticholesterolemic, etc. 
Cinouboila Bryonia alba
Flavonoids,cucurbitacins, sterols, lectins, aminoacids, etc. Wound healing, hemostatic, diuretic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antiatherosclerotic agent, rheumatism, antitumoral activity 
Wolfsbane Aconitum napellus
Aconite (alkaloid) Antirheumatic, analgesic, neuralgia, respiratory tract disorders, anti-inflammatory activity, etc. 
Pheasant’s eye Adonis vernalis  
Flavons, quinones, saponins, coumarins, etc. Sedative, diuretic, cardiotonic effect
Mallow Mallow sylvestris
Phenols, terpenoids, flavonoids, vitamins (A,B,C,E), minerals (Fe, Zn, Ca, Se, K, Mg), mucilage, inulin Anti-inflammatory activity, asthma, respiratory diseases, antimicrobial, kidney infections, wound healing, dermatological diseases (eczema, acne), antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anticancer
(ox tongue)
Anchusa officinalis
Flavonoids, polyphenols, choline, allantoin Antioxidant, antimicrobial, wound healing, emollient, antitumoral, expectorant, diuretic, analgesic, etc.
Common water-plantain Alisma plantago-aquatica (Alismataceae) Terpenoids, phenolic acids, sterols, alkaloids, Antibacterial, antialergic anti-cholesterolemic, diaphoretic, diuretic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive 
Winter cherry Physalis alkekengi
Alkaloids (solanină și fisolină), vitamins (C), glucocorticoids, lycopene Diuretic, laxative, anti-inflammatory activity, sedative, hepatoprotective, analgesic, antiseptic
Black henbane Hyoscyamus niger L .
Alkaloids (hyoscyamine, scopolamine and atropine), flavonoids, lignans, phenols, coumarin, saponins, glycosides Sedative, analgesic, antispasmodic, hypnotic, hallucinogenic, hypotensive, antimicrobial
Mullein Verbascum phlomoides L . (Scrophulariaceae) Phenols, terpenes, sterols, fatty acids, alkaloids, glycosides Anti-inflammatory activity, wound healing, antispasmodic, anthelmintic, expectorant, antifungal effect, diuretic
Yellow bugle Ajuga chamaepitys L .
Tanins, alkaloids, anthocyanins, sterols, terpenes, glycosides, essential acids Diuretic, anti-inflammatory activity, tonic, anti-microbial, antioxidant activity, antirheumatic, anthelmintic, antifungal effect 
Yarrow Achillea millefolium L .
Flavonoids, choline, sterols, vitamin K, volatile oils, tanins Anti-inflammatory activity, hemostatic, wound healing, analgesic, disinfectant, antispasmodic, gastroprotective, astringent, hypotensive, antitumoral
Stinging nettle Urtica dioica L .
Coumarine, sterols, terpenoids, carotenoids (β-carotene lutein and lycopene) fatty acids, poly-phenols, amino acids, chlorophyll, vitamins (A,C,B D,E,F,K,P), tannins, carbohydrates, sterols polysaccharides, isolectins, minerals (Fe, Ca, Zn, Co, Na, Cr, I, S, Cu), lignans Diuretic, anemia, laxative, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, anti-histamine effect, hemostatic
Gromwell Lithospermum canescens  
Phenolic acids, flavonoids, vitamins, sterols, phenols, allantoin Sedative, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, diuretic, antiseptic, colargol, antipruritic, contraceptive
False hellebore Veratrum album  
( Melanthiaceae )
Alkaloids, fatty acids, sterols, amino acids Antithrombotic activity, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic
Thyme Thymus vulgaris L
( Lamiaceae )
Terpene, flavonoids, antiviral, essential oils, tanins Anti-inflammatory, antitussive, antiseptic, antimicrobial, astringent, antihelmintic, tonic, carminative, disinfectant
Old man’s beard Clematis vitalba L  
( Ranunculaceae )
Terpenoids, saponins, volatile acids, alkaloids Diuretic, diuretic, analgesic, diuretic, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory agent, antipyretic, antirheumatic
Creeping cinquefoil Potentilla reptans L .
( Rosaceae )
Tanins, flavonoids, terpenes, anthocyanins, phenolic acids Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial activity, hypoglycemic hepatoprotective, anticancer effect, spasmolytic
Burdock Arctium lappa  
( Asteraceae )
Tanins, minerals (K), vitamins (B), volatile oils, phenolic acids Hypoglycemic, detoxifying, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, regenerating activity, hair growth, hepatoprotective, diuretic, anticancer, antidiabetic, antiviral activities, hypolipidemic
Jimson weed Datura stramonium L
( Solanaceae )
Alkaloids (atropine, scopolamine), saponins, lignins, sterol, tannins, flavonoids, carbohydrates, proteins Analgesic, antiasthmatic activities, antimicrobial, wound healing, purgative
Teasel Dipsacus pilosus L .
( Caprifoliaceae )
Phenolic acids, terpene Stomatologic, analgesic, blood circulation, anti-inflammatory, powerful remedy for Lyme disease
Centaury Erythraea centaurium Pers . ( Gentianaceae ) Terpenoids, phenolic acids, flavonoids, xanthones, volatile oils, coumarine, fatty acids, polysaccharides Tonic, purgative, sedative, antipyretic, antihelmintic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and diuretic properties, antidiabetic activity antimicrobial activity, gastroprotective, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism
peppermint Mentha piperita L
( Lamiaceae )
Volatile oils, flavonoid glycosides Astringent, analgesic, antiseptic, antioxidant, antispasmodic, cardioprotective, antiviral, bacteriostatic, anthelmintic, anti-protozoal, immunomodulatory, antiparasitic, carminative, antiemetic, antiallergic, antitumoral 
Birthwort Aristolochia clematitis  
( Magnoliiflorae )
Terpenoids, alkaloids, tanins, flavonoids, glycosides, saponine, fatty oils, minerals, sterols Aphrodisiac, immunomodulatory, cicatrisant, wound healing, dermatological diseases (eczema, acne), analgesic, antitumoral, depurative, anti-inflammatory
Houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale L
( Boraginaceae )
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids Antibacterial, antihemorrhagic, antiseptic, diuretic, anti-hyperlipidaemic, antidiabetic activity, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and non-central analgesic activities 

Excerpts from "Romany Life" 1915 Frank Cuttris

This information is from vintage herbal medicine sources, and it's provided here for information purposes only
 - These are not recommendations that you treat yourself with these herbs, or in these dosages. 

Use your own judgment and research individual herb safety. Check with a health care or holistic practitioner to determine safety.

Note: Many dosages recommended require that you take a "wineglassful". 
I have no idea what amount that traditional or typical size would have been at that time. Wineglasses come in a few sizes.

Most herbs can be used either fresh or dried. As a rule, herbs to be dried should be gathered on a dry day when plants are well developed, and just before they flower. Rinse the cut plants in cold water, shake them thoroughly and tie them in small bunches. Large bunches tend to get moldy in the middle. Hang in a dry, airy place. When the bunches are quite dry and crispy, remove the leaves from the stems and rub them through a fine sieve. Store them in airtight jars, as full as possible, in a dark place. You can also dry most in an air fryer that includes a dehydration capability.

Bites and Stings - The juice of the pimpernel is an excellent remedy for bee and wasp stings, and other insect bites.

Bladder Troubles - boil 1 oz. couch grass root in 1 pt. water for 5 minutes. Strain off the liquid and take a wineglassful six times a day.

High Blood Pressure - boil 1 oz. chopped-up stinging nettle in 1 pt. water for 5 minutes. Strain off the liquid and boil it again before bottling. Take a small wineglassful three times a day.

Burns - 1 lb. primrose leaves put in a pan with half that quantity of the flowers, both simmered with pig’s lard, will produce a most useful ointment for the treatment of burns. Strain off the leaves and the flowers and allow the lard to cool for use. This ointment is also good for ulcers and festering cuts. Another and equally good treatment for burns is an application of equal parts of linseed oil and lime-water.

Catarrh - A severe cold in the head could be described as acute nasal catarrh. It is the inflammation of the mucous surface of the lining of the nose, producing the discharge with which we are all familiar, the ‘running nose’. When there is little or no discharge, as when a cold is clearing up, catarrh can still be present in a dry form.

Horse chestnut tree leaves, thoroughly dried and then steeped in a solution of 1 oz. saltpetre to 1 pt. warm water. The leaves were dried again, rubbed into a powder, burn them on a tin plate and inhale the fumes. An alternative is a solution of rock salt in water at 1 oz. to 1 pt. water.

Chillblains - A chilblain is a local inflammation of the skin and the tissues immediately under it. As those who are prone to chilblains know, they occur on the toes, the fingers, the ears, and the nose.

A good remedy for unbroken chilblains is to dip a raw peeled onion in salt and then rub it on the swelling.

For broken chilblains, wash a turnip but do not peel it. Put it into the oven and bake it until soft. Then cut it in half and lay a piece on the chilblain, as hot as you can bear it. Afterwards, dress the chilblain with a soft rag with Vaseline on it.

Common Cold - The perspiration necessary to drive out a cold can be induced in the following way:

Given before bed: Cut up a lemon and place the pieces in a basin. Boil 1 pt. milk and pour it over the lemon. The milk will curdle; it should then be strained off and the curds thrown away. Put the clear liquid into a saucepan and heat it, adding honey to taste. The resulting mixture should be drunk as hot as possible on going to bed.

Another cold recipe is to put 1 tbs. black currant jam into a jug with a slice or two of lemon. Add 1 pt. boiling water and stir well. Leave it to settle. This can be taken hot or cold.
A nettle infusion or camomile tea or a good, hot brew of mugwort tea will also get rid of a cold. All of them will act as a preventative as well as a cure.

Colic - Boiled pumpkin pips well pounded will give a good medicine for colic. Strain off the water.
An infusion of elder flowers or leaves is also a certain remedy for colic.

Constipation - Boil together in 1 pt. water 1 oz. jalap root and a piece of aloes no bigger than a pea. After 10 minutes of boiling, strain off the water but be sure to mash up the root to get all the moisture out of it. Drink a wineglassful of the liquid, morning and night. 

This remedy is particularly good for children, as they enjoy it as a food rather than as a medicine: 
The ingredients are ½ lb. stoned raisins, 1 lb. figs cut up into small pieces, 1 lb. brown sugar, and 1 oz. senna leaves. Put these into a pan, add 1 pt. water, and stir thoroughly. Then stand the pan in a larger one with cold water in it and boil for 2 or 3 hours. See that the small pan is closely covered. When you have finished boiling, pour out on to a buttered plate and flatten the mixture to form a thick cake. Leave to cool, then cut into pieces about 1 in. square, and store in a closed tin for use as needed. One square of the cake is the usual dose, but two or three may be taken at once without them doing any harm.

Put 3 handfuls of blackthorn blossoms into a jar, cover them with cold water and stand the jar in a pan of boiling water for 2 hours. Strain the liquid off and drink a teacupful each morning for at least three mornings. Wait for three or four days and repeat the treatment if necessary. This is a safe and painless laxative quite suitable for children.

This useful remedy is made by taking a dozen senna pods and putting them into a saucepan with a peppercorn, a piece of mace, a piece of whole ginger, about a quarter of a nutmeg, and a clove. Add 1 qt. boiling water, then simmer slowly till the water is reduced to 1 pt. Strain off the water and add honey to taste. Bottle the mixture and take a wineglassful as required.

Cooling own The System - In hot weather a healthful and cooling drink can be made by infusing a few flowers of the meadow sweet. Allow it to get cold before drinking it.

Another good drink when perspiring, or during hot weather, is a tea made of oatmeal. Boil 2 tbs. coarse oatmeal in 1 qt. water for 1 hour, adding more water as the first boils away. Strain and pour into a jug in which is the juice from 2 lemons and the grated rind of 1 lemon. Add sugar or honey to taste and allow to cool before drinking. Oatmeal and barley water used to be well-known drinks for men doing hard physical work, such as farm laborers and firemen in the stokeholds of coal-burning ships.

Corns - Gather some young ivy leaves, place them in a small jar and cover them with vinegar. Leave them for at least a day, then fix one of the leaves over the corn. Repeat this each day, using a fresh leaf each time. The relief of pain is truly marvellous, and is almost instantaneous. You may have to continue this treatment for from two weeks to a month, but even the hardest corn will come completely away in time, and you will have no pain at all during the treatment.

Coughs - Agrimony, 1 oz. per 1 pt. boiling water is a very good cough cure and will reduce a high temperature quickly if taken by the tablespoonful three or four times a day.

Tea made from the leaves of the coltsfoot is also beneficial for a cough.

Also an infusion of the leaves of the eyebright will relieve a cough. 

A popular Romany cough and bronchial remedy is: 2 oz. coltsfoot leaves, 1 oz. hyssop, 1 oz. of black horehound, 1 oz. lump ginger. Put them all into 2 qt. water and boil down to 1 qt. Strain and press the herbs. When the liquid is cold it can be taken as desired.

Another good cough cure is made from: 1 lemon, 2 oz. honey, 1 oz. black liquorice, and 1 pt. white vinegar. Put the vinegar and the chopped-up liquorice into a basin. Place this in a hot oven and stir it until all the liquorice is quite dissolved, or alternatively it can be boiled in a saucepan over a slow heat on the stove. Add the honey, and when the mixture is cooling add the juice of the lemon. Take a teaspoonful as necessary.

If some ripe black cherries are stewed in very little water, then strained to remove stones and skin they can, with other ingredients, give an excellent relief for coughs. The other ingredients are honey and lemon juice added to the cherry pulp to make it of the consistency of cream. A leaspoonful should be taken as required.

Put a handful of coltsfoot leaves into 1 qt. water and simmer until reduced to 1 pt. Strain off into a jug with a sliced lemon in it. Add honey to taste. Take a wineglassful three times a day.

Cuts - Minor cuts can be healed quickly by an application of asphodel. 
A small quantity of this plant is placed in butter and the butter is then melted down to a salve. This should not be used on deep wounds.

Take a handful of the herb frogbit, wash it very thoroughly and put it in a jar with 4 lb. clarified lard. Stand the jar in a pan of water and simmer for two hours, stirring often.
The resulting ointment is a fine healer of all cuts and bruises, both major and superficial. It can also be used on spots and broken pimples.

Diarrhea - Infuse the herb agrimony as if making tea, 1 oz. of the herb to 1 pt. boiling water. A tablespoonful three times a day, usually for two days, will work wonders.

Boil 1 oz. rhubarb root for 5 minutes in 1 pt. water. A small dose of this is usually sufficient to cure diarrhoea, but more can be taken, as it is a safe aperient.

The above remedies are for an urgent cure, but another excellent mixture, which is also a wine, can be made from blackberries. 
This is not only a cure for diarrhea, but also a preventative for colds and chills, if taken hot. 
This is the method: ½ gal. blackberries in a preserving pan with 3 tbs. water. Keep stirring it over a low flame until it is a soft pulp. Squeeze it through a muslin bag. When all the juice is obtained, put it into the pan again, 1 qt. juice to 1 lb. sugar. 
Fasten into a piece of muslin 1 tbs. allspice, 1 tbs. cloves, 1 tbs. nutmeg broken up small but not grated, and 1 tbs. cinnamon.
Boil this muslin bag of spices with the juice for 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove the spices and add a wineglassful of brandy or rum.
Bottle the mixture when cool enough, and seal tightly. The dose is half a wine glass for a child, and a full one for an adult.

A tea made of strawberry leaves can help in cases of diarrhea.

Earache - Garlic, in addition to being a top ingredient for boosting immunity, it also has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties and that is why some Romanians use it when they experience earaches (often caused by ear infections). And it’s quite simple: you just have to stick a clove of garlic in each ear and that should ease the pain.

Indigestion - take 1 oz. dried wormwood and pour 1 pt boiling water over it. Let it stand for 6 hours, then strain off into a bottle. A wineglassful of this twice a day will improve your digestion, and you will be surprised how well and strong you feel in two or three days.

Another first-class way to get rid of digestive troubles is to make a hop sherry, which is very simple. 
Just add 1 oz. of either dried or fresh hops to 1 pt. sherry, and seal the bottle for at least two months. A wine glass of this before a main meal will give you a wonderful tonic.

This further remedy is an excellent one, contributed by Esmerelda Price, a Romany woman greatly respected in north Lincolnshire, both in her own community and outside it.

Boil 1 oz. mandrake root in 1 pt. water for 5 minutes. Take a teaspoonful of the liquid five or six times a day. This is also very good for the complexion.

As well as being a remedy for indigestion, this is another that will do wonders for the skin and complexion - If a tea is made by putting a few Camomile flowers into a cup, then infused by boiling water and covered by a saucer for a few minutes, you will find that you have a pleasant drink which will do you a great deal of good. It will very quickly relieve that form of indigestion commonly called ‘stitch’. Drunk regularly, say every morning, Camomile tea will clear up many troubles, especially those caused by liver disorders. Taken hot on going to bed, it will produce perspiration to cure a cold.

Apricot marmalade is a pleasant cure for indigestion, as well as being a good natural item for eating at any time. 
4 lb. ripe apricots put in a preserving pan over a slow fire. Add water to prevent burning. This may not be necessary if the fruit is extremely ripe.

Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Then strain through a colander, beating well and keeping back the skin and stones. Put the pulp back into the pan with 2 lb. sugar. Cook the whole mixture slowly, stirring it with a wooden spoon. When it has become a jelly put it into jars for use.

****Note: I removed the addition to the apricot marmalade of apricot seeds mentioned in this recipe. The seed contains cyanide. Do not ingest foods that are cooked with apricot pits or seed.

Yet another remedy is to boil 1 oz. quassia chips in 1 qt. water for about 6 minutes. A tablespoonful of the liquor after each meal will soon cure you.

Strains, bruises and sprains - a most effective liniment mixture can be made up in the following way: 2 tbs. olive oil, 1 tsp. Eucalyptus oil, 6 tbs. turpentine, 1 egg, 10 tbs. vinegar. This is an excellent liniment. The method of preparation is to put the ingredients into a large bottle and shake vigorously before use.

Another good liniment is made with 1 pt. household ammonia and pt. turpentine in a quart bottle. Add to this 2 new laid eggs well beaten and with their shells included and finely crushed. Then put in 1 pt. vinegar. Do not cork the bottle at once or it will burst, but leave it until the next day, when it can be corked. The mixture will become creamy and it can then be used on strains, bruises and sprains as needed.

A very strong decoction of camomile flowers, infused by pouring a little boiling water over them and then allowing time for it to draw, will relieve the pain and stiffness caused by a sprain. Apply externally while hot.

Cabbage leaves wrapped around swollen or painful joints will relieve pain and swelling.


4 oz fat from the kidney of the pig. 1 oz cutting from the frog of a horse's hoof. One Houseleek (the plant that grows on tiles of cottages, etc. A rosette-shaped plant). 1 oz scrapings from the bark of the Elder tree.

Place together in a hot oven, stirring continually while the fat is sizzling. Then strain off into a clean jar and use on skin complaints, cuts, sores, boils, bruises, etc.


2 oz. pure Hog lard. One dram Chrysorobin. Mix well together and rub into the scalp. Be very careful that it does not get in the eyes. This remedy grows hair when every other method has failed.

Gas - Take 1 oz. Caraway seeds and bruise them well, then soak them in 1 pt. cold water for 6 or 7 hours. A teaspoonful of this liquid will give relief.

For a more serious case which is accompanied by headache, take clove tea. Put 3 whole cloves into a cup and pouring boiling water over them until the cup was half-full. The cup was then covered by the saucer for a few minutes. The mixture should be sipped slowly.

The herb fennel is an excellent aid to digestion, and cannot be too highly recommended. Wash the herb, and chop it up and sprinkle it over your food. You will find that you will never have stomach upsets.

An infusion made from either dried or fresh mint leaves is also good for flatulence. 1 tsp. in a teacup with a 1 tsp. ground ginger is enough. Nearly fill the cup with boiling water, cover for a few minutes, then add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda, and sip while the mixture is hot.

One ounce of spearmint boiled in 1 pt. water for 2 or 3 minutes will relieve flatulence and feelings of sickness. Take a tablespoonful whenever necessary.

The Herb Saxifrage (Pimpinella Saxifrage). 1 oz to one and a half pints of water, made as tea, by pouring over boiling water. Dose, a table spoonful after every meal.

Gout - A handful of white horehound leaves, and a handful of black horehound leaves. Boil these together in 1 qt. water, adding more water as the first boils away. Strain the mixture then boil it up again, this time adding a piece of ginger about as big as your thumb. Drink a wineglassful of the liquid three times a day.

Headache - A few pieces of willow bark boiled in a pan of water. 
*I've used this remedy using the bark of my willow trees, and it works. Willow bark contains salicylic acid, the ingredient found in most patented headache remedies. It has proven to be safe and effective. Modern medicine has chemicalized it and we call it "aspirin".

For nervous headaches the flowery tops of rosemary made into a tea with boiling water are needed. Taken every day, this infusion is good for anyone, but is particularly useful for female complaints.

For anyone wanting a supply of nerve tonic, a wine can be made from chopped-up sprigs of rosemary, flowers, leaves and all. Put these into a large bottle, about half-filling it. Add 4 pt. sherry, cork well, and leave for a week. The liquid can then be drained off for use as desired.

A tea made from a few dried lime flowers will cure a headache in about half an hour. The flowers can be dried on a tin in a cool oven. Leave them to dry for 1 hour or more. The infusion should be taken hot. It is then best to lie down for half an hour, after which the cure will be complete and lasting.

For a severe headache put a pinch of dried marjoram into a teacup. Half fill it with boiling water, cover it with a saucer to allow it to draw, and drink while hot.

Flu - Take 15 drops of essence of cinnamon on a lump of sugar, as a good preventative. This appears to be quite effective.
Eat 2 or 3 oranges a day as a preventive.

Insomnia - for the common, simple kinds due to worry or over-excitement, the following methods are better than any tablets or pills.

The pillow stuffed with hops is well known. Merely working in the hop fields will ensure a good, healthy, refreshing sleep.

If the sleeplessness is complicated by difficulty in breathing, try a pine pillow. Obtain the wood shavings from freshly-cut deal and stuff a pillow slip with them. It is cheap, effective, and quite comfortable to sleep on. The shavings need to be renewed fairly often.

Take several flowers of the cowslip and infuse as if making tea. Let it stand for about 5 minutes and drink it just before going to bed. Milk can be added if desired. A tiny pinch of isinglass added to the cowslip tea will rest a weary brain.

Some people find that a leaf or two of lettuce eaten shortly before bedtime gives them a sound sleep.

Itch - For cases where the itching has proved to be a symptom of eczema, the juice of the bilberry applied directly to the skin is often marvellous in its results.

Parasitic complaints will respond to the following treatment: 2 oz. lard and 2 oz. mercury mixed very well together until the lard is darkened by the mercury. Wash the affected part of the body with hot water and apply the ointment. The best time for the treatment is just before going to bed.

A fine remedy for skin complaints is to cut a slice or two from a raw parsnip and place them in a cup, then pour boiling milk over them. Leave for a little while, and then stir thoroughly. Drink the milk while it is hot. Even just the laying on the affected part of a slice of parsnip will cure many skin complaints.

Jaundice - Dandelion leaves well washed and eaten in sandwiches of thin brown bread and butter are a first-class blood tonic.

A tea made from the juice of the herb mousear is another efficient cure for jaundice. In some parts of the country this herb is known as hawkweed.

Yet another method for the treatment of jaundice is the use of asparagus in the following way: the root should be washed and sliced, then boiled for 1 hour. The liquid is to be taken by the cupful, three times a day.

1 oz. barberry bark to be boiled in 1 pt. water for 20 minutes, and the resultant liquor to be taken by the tablespoonful four times a day.

Kidney Troubles - boil 1 oz. of the herb broom for 10 minutes in 1 pt. water. The dose is one tablespoonful three times a day.

Boil 1 oz. Cranesbill root in 14- pt. water for 20 minutes, which should reduce the amount of water to about 1 pint. Take a small wineglassful of the liquid twice a day. 

2 oz. burdock root boiled in 4 pt. water until the water is reduced to 1 qt. makes an extremely good remedy for kidney ailments. Drink the liquid as required.

A weak infusion of the berries of the barberry is also good for kidney trouble.

It is very beneficial to drink the water in which leeks have been boiled. 
It is also good of course for sufferers from kidney disorders to eat leeks.

Arthritis, Rheumatism, Lumbago, Sciatica - Celery is the great remedy for lumbago and kindred complaints such as sciatica and rheumatism. Allied to an almost meatless diet it will work wonders. Do not take sugar, and eat as much vegetables and fruit as you can. Fish can be taken, and a little poultry occasionally.

The chief part of the diet is celery, which must be taken in one form or another every day. If fresh celery is unobtainable, then take celery seed. 
The seed should be stewed in milk, then strained, and the liquid taken three times a day between meals.

Fresh celery should be boiled in milk and the milk allowed to cool for drinking.

The longer you have had your complaint, the longer will the cure take, but even the most chronic cases will show improvement if you persist with the treatment.

Boil 1 oz. dandelion root in 1 1 pt. water for 20 minutes, which should reduce the water to about 1 pt. Strain off and cool, and take a wineglassful twice a day.

Another remedy is to take a handful of hops and pour boiling water over them until they are quite soaked, then place the hops in muslin to keep them together, and lay them on the affected part. This simple poultice is excellent for long-standing pain in stiffened joints.

Peel the root of a horseradish, cut it into slices and rub them on the affected parts.

Yet another simple application is that of dried marjoram placed in a muslin bag and heated in the oven, then put on the area of pain.

An infusion of the leaves or flowers, or of the crushed seeds of burdock will also relieve rheumatism.

The herb rue, is first class in its properties for relieving sciatic pains. The green leaves of the herb are beaten and bruised, then laid on the site of the pain.

Sore Throat -  

Make an infusion of the herb self-heal as if making tea, one pint of water to 1 oz. of the herb. Drink the liquid very slowly, a wineglassful two or three times a day.

The crushed root of the herb avens will provide another cure for a sore throat if a little is placed in boiling water for a few minutes. The liquid is drunk cool.

A raspberry vinegar made by putting a quart of fresh raspberries in a basin is good for sore throats and chests. Pour on a pint of vinegar and cover well. Let it stand for 3 days, stirring it each day. Strain through a flannel bag and add to the liquor 1 lb. loaf sugar to each pint. Then boil for 10 minutes, removing the scum which rises to the top. When cold, bottle and cork well. Best taken from a spoon and sipped slowly.

If nettle leaves are boiled down, and honey added to the water to make a syrup, a teaspoonful will clear the throat and heal the chest.

Take 3 dried figs, split them open, and put them into a saucepan with 2 pt. water and 1 oz. liquorice root. Simmer to about 1 pt., strain off the liquid and bottle it. This will provide you with a most effective gargle for a sore throat.

Perhaps the best infusion of all for chest and throat trouble is linseed tea made in the following way: put 2 tbs. of whole linseeds into 1 qt. water and simmer slowly for about 70 minutes. Strain off the liquid and add the juice of two lemons and sugar or honey to sweeten to individual taste.

Neuralgia - This intolerable pain is that which travels along the course of a nerve when no structural changes can be observed, even with a microscope.

Appy a dressing of horseradish scrapings held to the site of the pain.

Another remedy is to boil 1 oz. of the herb ladies’ slipper root in 1 pt. water for 10 minutes. Strain off the liquid. One wineglassful should be enough to offset the attack.

Toothache -
Relief can be found by using the juice of a white beetroot.

Sage tea, used hot as a mouth wash may also be effective.

It must be remembered that these methods can only relieve and not cure, and in the final resort one must visit the dentist for a permanent cure of the trouble.

As an occasional teeth whitener, lemon juice is excellent. It should not be used too often however, as it is acid.

Strawberry juice will also whiten teeth.

Warts - Dandelion juice is the surest cure for warts. Squeeze a leaf and a drop of the milky secretion will appear. Apply this to the wart and continue this treatment for as long as is necessary. Eventually the wart will turn black. If you carry on this treatment, you will suddenly realize to your surprise that the wart has gone, leaving no trace.

Apple juice can be used as an alternative cure by rubbing the wart with a slice of freshly-cut apple and leaving the juice to dry on.
Juice of an elderberry leaf may also be used, or that of chickweed. The greater celandine and the houseleek may also be utilized in the same way, but the best juice of them all is that of the dandelion.

A word on prevention of warts. The water in which eggs have been boiled can cause warts. Such water should always be thrown away and not left standing about. Warts can also be picked up if the skin is scratched on the walls of farm buildings such as cattle byres, stables and so forth. As a final warning, warts should never be cut or pricked, except under medical supervision.

Suggested Herbs and Veggies for a Romany Remedy Garden, Or To Forage (Medicinal Weeds included)

Many of these plants also have value as culinary herbs and foods in kitchen gardens, and are beautiful in an ornamental garden

As always, before purchasing seed or plants or planning your garden, check the 
USDA Cold Hardiness Map for your area to see whether the plants will thrive and survive.

Click here for a US and a Northeast Region Cold Hardiness Map

AGRIMONY (Agrimonia Eupatoria): This herb has pointed, dark green leaves. The flowers have five yellow petals and grow off the main stem on long spikes. Agrimony grows in meadows to about 1 ft. in height, and blooms throughout the summer.

ALDER (Glutinosa Alnus): The alder grows to about 30 ft. in height as a tree. Usually found growing by streams or brooks, it bears rough, oval-shaped leaves, and two kinds of catkins, in which are the male and female flowers.

ALMOND TREE: bearing white, pink, or red flowers. They bloom in the spring. The tree is ornamental and rarely grows to more than 10 ft. high. There are dwarf varieties that can be grown in pots and containers. The blossoms arrive early spring and cover the leafless branches.

ALOES : An evergreen plant. It has thick, fleshy leaves and bears many tubular flowers. Bitter aloes, a drug, is obtained from the dried juice of the leaves. An oil is distilled from the wood of the aloes.

APPLE(Pyrus Malus): Perhaps the most widely-eaten and healthy fruits in the western world.

ASPARAGUS (genus of Liliaceae): This plant grows wild in most parts of Europe. Medically useful for the substance it contains, called aspargine, which is valuable as a diuretic, and for its action on the urinary organs. Asparagus can be boiled as a soup, or used simply as a vegetable.

ASPHODEL (Asphodelus Albus): This is the white Asphodel which grows to a height of about three feet. It has a beautiful white flower, the flowers standing in spikes on top of the three divisions of the stalk. The flowers are streaked with purple on their tops with yellow threads in the middle. The root is the part used in medicine.

AVENS (Geum Urbanum): Also known as wood avens and herb bennett. The plant is found abundantly in shady woods and in shady copses. The flowering stem reaches 3 ft. in height, bearing solitary bright yellow flowers from June to August.

BARBERRY (Berberis Vulgaris): A shrub having yellow flowers and red berries. It grows to about 5 ft.

BEETROOT (Chenopodiaceae): Beetroot or beet is the name of two kinds of beet, one with a red, sweet root used as a vegetable, and the other with a white root, used for making sugar and commonly referred to as sugar beet.

BILBERRY (Vaccinium Myrtillus):A bush with many angular branches, and green-tinged rosy flowers which produce the dark blue edible berry. It is also known as whortleberry.

BINDWEED (Convolvulus Arvensis): The  bindweed is a weed found growing in fields and pastures. It has delicate pink or near-white flowers from June to September. Its leaves are spear-shaped.

BLACKBERRY (Rubus Fruticosus): Commonly known as the bramble. This well-known prickly herb produces a delicate and delicious fruit which is useful in cases of diarrhoea, because of its binding action upon the bowels. This is why pies are traditionally eaten mixed with apple, to offset this action.

BLACKCURRANT (Ribes Nigra): Small, black, juicy fruit.

BLACKTHORN (Prunus Spinosa)  This shrub, so commonly used for hedges, produces its white blossoms in March or April before the leaves appear. Its dark purple fruit is the "sloe", which is a species of wild plum.

BROOM (Cytisus Scoparius): Dark green, spraying foliage. It bears bright yellow flowers which resemble those of the gorse bush. 

BURDOCK (Arctium Lappa): Burdock has large leaves like those of rhubarb. Its flowers are small and a mauve colour. When these fruit, they form burrs which cling to the clothing. It grows to a height of 4 or 5 ft.

CABBAGE (Capum Brassica): The Romany believed that ‘It holds the secret of long life’.

CHAMOMILE (Anthemis Nobilis): A strongly-scented herb which has yellow flowers with petals like a daisy.

CARAWAY (Carum Carui): This biennial wild plant has leaves like those of the carrot. The seeds are  well-known in cooking and baking.

CARROT (Daucus Carota)

CELERY (Apium Graveolens): Celery is really an herb. Celery is respected for its value in combating rheumatic disorders.

CHERRY: The cherry tree is of the rose family. There are several varieties. Grow different varieties for juices, pie fillings, jams and flavoring other remedies.

CHICKWEED (Arenaria): Sometimes called stitchwort. There are several varieties of this weed. 

COLTSFOOT (Tussilago Farfara): Once called coughwort, this plant was used in ancient Greece for respiratory ailments. 
It blooms bright yellow flowers in March, and can be found in or near woods. Sometimes it is mistaken for the dandelion.

COUCH GRASS (Agropyrum Repens): The stems of this grass will grow to four feet. 
It is regarded as an invasive weed. If you plant this, plant it in a pot to confine it, and remove blossoms before they go to seed.

COWSLIP (Primula Veris):
An herb belonging to the primrose family. It has stalked, drooping flowers. 

CRANESBILL (Geranium Dissection): Of the geranium family, its flowers are bluish-purple. The seeds grow in a sharp pod resembling a bird’s bill.

CUDWEED (Gnaphalium Sylvaticum): This is a dense, cottony herb, with narrow leaves and small flower heads. The flower heads are enclosed by chaff-coloured scales which persist.

DANDELION (Taraxacum Officinale): This well-known wild flower has been used as a food, as well as for medicinal purposes for centuries. An excellent coffee is made from the root, which is suitable for those with heart troubles. 
Dandelion leaves are still eaten in salads in many parts of Europe and America. Italians customarily use it in salads, and especially value the flowers that they gather for wines.

DOCK (Rumex): There are at least a dozen species, including bitter, fiddle, yellow, water, and the sour dock or sorrel.

ELDER (Sambucus Nigra): A large shrub or small tree. Its leaves are toothed and are five to a stem. Flowers appear in May and June and are white or tinged in pink, tightly clustered like the heads of Queen Anne's Lace . The plant is very pretty, the foliage has a pleasing scent that I can't really describe, and they grow well in containers. I use the laceleaf species in large, colorful pots for my Zen landscapes. I keep them dwarf. The purple-black berries, like the flowers, are used in home-made wines. Romanies use every part of this shrub/tree.

ENDIVE (Intypbum): This herb is a kind of chicory, having curly pale leaves. It has similar properties to those of watercress.

EYEBRIGHT (Euphrasia Officinalis): This is a little herb found in meadows, that grows about 6 in. high. 
It blooms from May to September with small whitish flowers having a speck of yellow.

FENNEL (Foeniculum Vulgare): A fern-like perennial, this is a favorite of chefs for fish sauces and flavorings. Fennel is a beautiful plant with its golden flowers, and the Romans swore by it as an aid to digestion. It grows in stark and rocky places, and also near the sea. Grazing animals are instinctively fond of it, and it has many veterinary uses.

FIG (Ficus Carica): I grow several varieties that are considered cold hardy, in my zone 6 garden. And I grow them in pots. I over-winter varieties that can't survive winter, so I can enjoy several varieties the next harvest season. it makes a fabulous fruit spread, it can be dehydrated, and it can be mixed with balsamic vinegar for a dressing.

FLUELLIN (Veronica Officinalis): There are two varieties of this weed that grows at the edges of cornfields. They both have long creepers lying along the ground. They have hairy leaves and small flowers. One variety bears a yellow and purple flower, while the other bears a white flower. Both have small black seeds. Fluellin is sometimes called Speedwell.

FROGBIT (Hydrocharis Morsus Ranae): This small, floating aquatic herb has kidney-shaped leaves, their undersides of a reddish color. The bulbs sink to the bottom of ponds in the autumn, then rise to the surface again in spring to throw out leaves. It has white flowers.


GINGER (Zingibar Officinale): Rootstock of a perennial reed-like herb, ginger has been known as a culinary and medicinal spice since ancient times.

GREATER CELANDINE (Chelidonium Majus): Growing to 2-3 ft. in height, this herb of the poppy family can be found near houses, on the side of the road, or on waste ground. It has bright yellow flowers with four petals to each one. The leaves are long, being green on top and grey underneath. The yellow juice is said to be almost as good as that of the dandelion for the treatment of warts.

GROUNDSEL (Scnecio Vulgaris): Its small yellow flowers are succeeded by white, fluffy seed heads. The leaves are alternate and deeply cut, with irregularly toothed lobes.

HOPS (Humulus Lupulus): Catkins of the hop plant, hops are usually used for flavoring beer. The plant is a perennial, climbing herb, with twining stems, bearing flowers in green, scaly cones. After flowering the hops develop small yellow glands secreting the principle of the herb.

HOREHOUND: Horehound is also known as madweed or gypsy wort. It grows to 1 to 2 ft. high and has downy, wrinkled leaves. Its flowers are purple.

HORSERADISH (Cochlearia Armoracia): The pungent root of this herb provides the well-known condiment, and the oil extracted from horseradish is an antidote to scurvy. The root of the herb is aggressive,  and will spread and push through almost any obstacle. Grow these in big tubs or pots.

HOUSELEEK (Sempervivum Tectorum): A familiar succulent herb in the countryside, houseleek grows on cottage roofs and walls in rosettes of fleshy leaves with pink flowers. It is not related to the veggie leek.

HYSSOP (Hyssopus Officinalis): This small aromatic plant is a native of the Mediterranean. It has blue flowers and lance-like leaves. I grow several pots of it to attract pollinators and hummingbirds. Agastache is a type of hyssop, or hummingbird mint. There are sevaral varieties that smell like mint or anise. Hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators love it.

IVY (Hedera Helix): This common evergreen climber can be found on walls and trees, and has uses in the landscape, scrambling as a groundcover over slopes and hills, at the base of container plants, and tumbling from window boxes. The yellow-green flowers appear in September and October and are succeeded by small yellow or black berries.

LADIES SLIPPER (Lotus Corniculatu): A pasture, meadow and prairie flower, ladies slipper is also known as bird’s foot trefoil. It has trailing branches and its flowers are in spreading heads, bright yellow, tinted with red. From June to October the fields and meadows are brightly decorated with Ladies Slipper.

LEEK (Allium Porrum): A well-known hardy biennial.

LEMON (Citrus Medica): The rind is used for candied peel and marmalades, and the juice is well known in cookery and in medicine. I grow dwarf Meyer Lemon trees in pots outdoors, and indoors in winter. They produce flowers and fruits all the time, and have no real fruiting season. Most do ripen in the winter months. Ripe fruit can remain on the tree for months, until you need it. Lemon juice is loaded with vitamin C, and is a slimming agent. Lemon peels boiled with clothes make an excellent bleach, and also keeps clothing free of soap scum. 

LIME (Tilia Europaea): The lime tree or linden has clustered yellowish-white flowers and heart-shaped leaves. 

LINSEED (Linum Usitatissimum): Linseed oil is made from ripened and dried flax seeds.

MARJORAM (Origanum Vulgare): Wild marjoram grows at the edges of woods, to about a height of 2 ft. It has purple flowers and oval-shaped toothed leaves.

MEADOW-SWEET (Spiraea Ulmaria): This flower is also known as bridewort and queen of the meadows. It has a very pretty flower with a sweet smell. I grow them to attract pollinators in the butterfly and bee gardens.

MINT (Mentha Spicata): Mint is known as a blood tonic. It is useful in soothing the stomach. Do not grow any type of mint in the open ground. It is aggressively invasive. Grow this in pots, indoors and out.

MOUSEAR (Hieracium Pilosella): Also known as hawkweed, this common weed is found on lawns, its runners spreading out with the leaves in little rosettes close to the ground. The flowers are yellow.

NETTLE (Urtica Dioica): This is the stinging nettle, dark green and growing to 4 ft. tall. The male and female flowers, green in color, are carried on the same plant and in clusters. Nettle is a rich source of chlorophyll. Nettles are delicious and are as good as spinach. You can eat in in the same ways.

ONION (Allium Cepa)

ORANGE (Citrus Aurantium): All the varieties of the fruit are valuable for their content of mineral salts and vitamins A, B, and especially C. There are many varieties that are dwarf and grow well in pots. They do well when brought indoors for the winter in the northern regions, just like lemons and limes.

PARSNIP (Peucedanum Sativum): The parsnip has been cultivated since Roman times. It is palatable and nutritious, and contains sugar. Its long white tapering root is an excellent food.

PEACH (Prunus Persica)

PIMPERNEL (Anagallis Arvensis):Known also as the scarlet pimpernel, this flower is common in gardens, fields, and on waste ground. The scarlet flowers appear singly on very long slender stalks from the axils of the leaves, during the months from May to November.  The petals close every day at about 2 p.m. If they are closed before that time it is a certain sign that rain is on the way.

PINE (Pinus Sylvestris)

POTATO (Solatium Tuberosum): 
The potato is a tuber of a herb of the nightshade family.

PRIMROSE (Primula Vulgaris): Abundant in open woods and in hedgerows. The primrose flowers during April and May. Its flowers are on long, slender stalks of a pinkish colour.

Plum: The dried plum (prune) has highly nutritive qualities.

PUMPKIN (Cucurbita Pepo)

RADISH (Raphanus Sativus) 

RAGWORT (Senecio Jacobea): Found in neglected places and by roadsides, ragwort is a tough herb, with an erect branching leafy stem. The bright yellow flowers, about an inch across, appear from June to October. The stem grows from 1 to 4 ft.

RASPBERRY (Rubus Idaeus)

RHUBARB (Rheum): Although the stalks of this herbaceous plant are edible, the leaves are poisonous.

ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus Officinalis): This hardy evergreen perennial shrub grows between 2 and 3 ft. in height. Oil of rosemary is extracted from its  leaves. The small violet flowers appear in early summer.

RUE (Ruta Graveolens): Also known as the herb of grace, and the poor man’s heal-all. It is a small shrub. The leaves are serrated and a bluish-green. The flowers are  greenish-yellow color. Rue is very hardy and was popular in Elizabethan gardens. It will grow to 2 ft. in height.

SAGE (Salvia Officinalis): Sage is an excellent aid to digestion. It will grow in almost any soil, but likes plenty of sun. It bears purple flowers and has oblong leaves.

SPINACH (Spinacia): An edible herb and a popular vegetable. Spinach is easily digested.

THYME (Thymus Serpyllum): There are many varieties and sizes of thyme, and it is valuable in cooking and healing The leaves are small and stalked. I grow the creeping lemon thyme and use it frequently in chicken and fish dishes, as well as soups and stews. I like the subtle lemon flavor. It is a hardy perennial, and looks pretty as a ground cover, or between stones.

TOMATO (Lycopersicum Esculentum): The fruit of the tomato plant is very rich in vitamins A, B, and C. People who suffer from gout should not eat tomatoes.

TURNIP (Brassica Campestus): The white and purple turnips are  grown for eating, and both the leaves and the roots can be used. 

WILLOW: The name given to any tree or shrub of the genus Salix

WOOD SAGE (Teucrium Scorodonia):  Before flowering, this might be mistaken for the ordinary sage. But wood sage bears yellow flowers in sprays. It can be found in woods from July to September.

WORMWOOD (Artemisia Absinthium): A herb bearing many drooping yellow flowers during August and September. It grows to about 3 ft. in height. It is well known in Japanese herbal medicine. Another species, mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris), is found on roadsides and waste spaces, being a perennial, aromatic herb. It has a red, rough stem from 2 to 4 ft. high. The flower heads are small, with reddish-yellow flowers.

***These natural and home remedies are given for information use only, as a guide to the natural remedies used by the Romany.
They are not given as prescriptions or suggested remedies for your ailments.
If you are ill, see your physician. 
If you use any of these remedies, you do so at your own risk.



Exerpts from "Romany Life" 1915 Frank Cuttris
IntechOpen Books
Exerpts from "Therapeutic Use of Some Romanian Medicinal Plants", Adina-Elena Segneanu, 
Department of Scientific Research and Academic Creation, West University of Timisoara, Romania

Gunda, Béla. “Gypsy Medical Folklore in Hungary.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 75, no. 296, 1962 
'Romany Remedies and Recipes', Gypsy Petulengro,1934.

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